September 21, 2009

Buddhist Intolerance?

Buddhism is often considered a religion of tolerance. In many ways it is. But a particular kind of intolerance develops as we practice: intolerance to suffering. I use the word “intolerance” to be deliberately provocative, to encourage you to reflect on suffering and the issues surrounding it.

Taking suffering seriously is an important element of Buddhist practice. To ignore it is to miss a powerful opportunity. Intolerance to suffering motivated the Buddha to find liberation from it. Suffering, a feeling of dissatisfaction with life, motivates people to engage in spiritual practice. The Buddha’s challenge is for us to become free of our suffering.

—Gil Fronsdal , from “Intolerance to Suffering,” Tricycle, Winter 2002

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J Brown's picture

While some may not be exactly fans of the person, one of Nietsche's quotes is on-point here: "How long did these people have to suffer to become so beautiful?"